As Somalia creeps back from its state as an ungoverned territory, the president brags to U.S. Secretary of State Kerry that Mogadishu now has traffic jams. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lands in Mogadishu, on an unannounced visit, the first trip by a U.S. secretary of state to the Horn of Africa nation that is battling an al Shabaab insurgency after two decades of civil war. When he sits down with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the recently elected president speaks of normalcy in a country that has been ripped apart by violence. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY CHATTING WITH SOMALI PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MAHAMOUD MAHAMOUD: "The downtown Mogadishu is different than it was a couple of years back. And, today, the roads are less bumpy and in the evenings we have lights. And, we have traffic jams." KERRY: "Traffic jams! Well, you're getting normal." Western nations have poured aid into Somalia, hoping to prevent it from sliding back into the hands of al Shabaab, who still use territory they control to launch attacks. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "We all have a stake in what happens here in Somalia. The world cannot afford to have places on the map that are essentially ungoverned. We learned in 2001 what happens when that is the case and we have seen, on a continued basis, with splinter groups, how they are determined to try to do injury to innocent people and to try to hold nations by operating out of ungoverned spaces. " The United States pulled its forces out of Somalia after the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident when a U.S. helicopter was shot down over Mogadishu, killing 18 soldiers. At that time, it was the deadliest one-day incident since the Vietnam war.